Place Branding and Public Diplomacy

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 4–10 | Cite as

A prehistorical evolutionary view of diplomacy

  • Iver B. NeumannEmail author
Original Article


Extant discussions of diplomacy understood as a social institution take the form of either histories or genealogies. This chapter attempts to complement these discussions by understanding the emergence of diplomacy in terms of evolutions. Specifically, I draw on Eldredge and Gould’s idea of punctuated equilibria or tipping points, understood as the culmination of long-term trends. Taking note of the importance of big game hunting as a precondition for human cooperation generally, I go on to identify five more tipping points. These are classificatory kinship as a template for regular cooperation; regular and ritualised contacts between culturally similar small-scale polities; regular and ritualised contacts between culturally different large-scale polities; permanent bilateral diplomacy and permanent multilateral diplomacy. In conclusion, I discuss what seems to be a trend on its way to become a new tipping point, namely that states increasingly hybridise their diplomacy by working with and through non-state actors.


Diplomacy Evolution Kinship Non-state actors Religion 



The funding for this article was provided by the Norwegian Research Council under the project ‘Evaluating Power Political Repertoires (EPOS)’, Project No. 250419.


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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Museum of Cultural HistoryUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

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